The harvest season will be celebrated across India with different festival in various regions of the nation. For people in South India, the year’s first festival will be celebrated as Bhogi, which marks the first day of Pongal. The four-day-long harvest festival Pongal begins on January 14 and lasts until January 17. The celebrations start with the Bhogi festival followed by Thai Pongal, Mattu Pongal and Kaanum Pongal respectively.
Bhogi festival is celebrated a day before Makar Sankranti, marked on January 13 this year. The festival is mainly celebrated in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, and Maharashtra.
On the day of Bhogi festival, devotees worship Lord Indra, the god of clouds and rains, and seek his blessings for the abundant harvest. The festival is of utmost importance for farmers and those who are in agriculture field, as they seek plenty and prosperity to the land during this time of the year. This is why Bhogi or Bogi, as it is called by some people, is also referred to as Indran. On this day, people clean their homes and prepare it for the festival and the puja that takes place for Lord Indra. Another ritual performed on this day is Bhogi Mantalu in which unwanted household items are disposed of into the fire made of wood and cow-dung cakes. Songs are sung in praise of gods, spring and harvest around this fire. The bonfire also acts like a source of warmth during this winter festival.
After cleaning their houses, people decorate it with kolams, which are floor designs drawn with a white paste of rice outlined with red mud. Some people also place a five-petal pumpkin flower set in lumps of cow-dung in kolams for decoration. On this day, fresh harvest of rice, turmeric and sugarcane are brought from fields for the preparation of Makar Sankranti and Pongal in the following day.
A special puja is performed before the cutting of paddy on Bhogi festival where farmers worship sun and Earth by smearing all their ploughs and sickles with sandalwood paste. After worshipping their essential farming tools, farmers harvest the rice.